Smart people have long been portrayed in movies and television shows, like The Big Bang Theory, as socially inept. That is because science has generally considered emotional intelligence, the ability to regard, understand and deal with emotions in oneself and others, and cognitive intelligence as two separate entities. However, a recent study from researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago have found that the pair are not two distinct factors. In fact, they found that, as IQ rose, so too did emotional intelligence.
According to LiveScience, the study was conducted using participants who were all Vietnam War veterans. They found, using brain scans, that the portions of the brain relied upon to measure cognitive intelligence were also used during social situations. Each of the 152 veterans had suffered damage to different portions of the brain, so researchers created a map that reflected the injuries. Then they compared the IQ and emotional intelligence results between those who had an injury and those who did not in that section. They found that damage to the frontal cortex, which is instrumental in memory, planning and regulating behavior, and the parietal cortex, which is important for remembering language, resulted in both cognitive and emotional difficulties.
"Intelligence, to a large extent, does depend on basic cognitive abilities, like attention and perception and memory and language," study coauthor Aron Barbey, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois, explained in a statement. "But it also depends on interacting with other people. We're fundamentally social beings and our understanding not only involves basic cognitive abilities but also involves productively applying those abilities to social situations so that we can navigate the social world and understand others."